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eastlakejulie in exotic_vettech

Equine/Livestock Vet Techs?

Hello! I'm a 23 year old who is seriously thinking about pursuing a college program to become a vet tech. I'm interested in hearing what peeople have to say about horses and livestock in the profession and when/if they ever enter into the picture as patients. I like small animals very much (I have 4 cats and used to raise rabbits) but my real love and interests lie with horses, and secondly with livestock. Basically, I would far rather be traipsing around in a muddy barnyard than be stuck in a nice clean climate-controlled office. I have the feeling that the need for equine and livestock techs is few and far between (if it exists at all.) If that's so, then perhaps being a vet tech is not for me.

My grades and self-discipline are not good enough to study to be a vet (though I wish they were) and after a lot of research into "equine science" and such programs, I know that that's not for me either. If it makes any difference, I have 16+ years intense experience with horses and a year or two's equivalent with other barnyard types. Can anyone think of any other fields that are related to equine/livestock and healing or care? (Obviously NOT meat production...)

Thanks so much for your help and insight!

(Please forgive my crosspost to vets2be and vettechs, if you've already come across this post in those communities.)


Have you looked into finding a job or volunteer possition with an equine vet before commiting to school? You could even just shadow one for a day or two to get an idea of what it's really like.

And if you decide to go to school, you will have to work on the self discipline. I start school in the fall and I have heard all the horror stories about how intense it is.
Very intense. You learn a lot, sometimes you have to take classes you're not interested in. But I am finding it well worth the effort. :-)

some options

I am still in vet tech school, so I don't know a whole lot about what the prospects are for someone specializing in large animal or equine medicine, but I get the feeling there is actually a fair ammount of opportunities in that area, depending a lot on where you live. More rural areas and places with a large farming community are going to be better, of course. (When people refer to "large animal medicine" basically what they mean is hoofstock - cows, sheep, pigs, etc. But 'equine medicine' is considered separete.) Also, if you are interested in working with hoofstock and spending at least part of your days outside, consider zoo work.

Zoos have zebras, which are basically horses with stripes. They also have sheep, goats, and pigs in their petting zoos. Not to mention a wide range of non-domestics: deer, elk, bison, giraffes, elands, gazelles, and camels, are all hoofstock, just to name a few, and although they are indeed exotic, they are all very closely related to your domestic hoofstock, and require very similar care. Now, I may be just starting out in the veterinary field, but I do know a thing or two about zoos. If you think you'd be happy as a zoo keeper - feeding, cleaning up after, and designing enrichment programs for a section of a zoo's animals - then I would recommend you start volunteering at your local zoo right now, and maybe start on some related degree (biology, animal management, etc.) But with your experience, its likely you won't need the degree.

If being a zoo vet tech sounds more like your thing, then I would again recommend you start volunteering at your local zoo right away. And then work on doing whatever it takes to become a lisenced, registered, or certified vet tech in your particular state. Because zoos basically only want lisenced technicians (the terminology is different from state to state). But keep in mind that while every zoo needs vet techs, the competition can be pretty steep.
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May 2010

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